web analytics
October 22, 2016 / 20 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘moment’

Israeli Olympians get their #IsraeliLivesMatter Moment

Monday, August 8th, 2016

(Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through}

In the global language of sport, there is a grand opera called the Olympics every few years. The world’s greatest compete and perform on the world stage for glory and entertainment.

In 1972, politics and poisonous hatred entered the forum, and 11 Israeli champions of sport were murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists.


For over 40 years, two wives of the slain athletes fought for a moment of remembrance for their husbands. The head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) refused. This week that changed. Or did it?

On August 3, 2016, before the opening of the games in Rio, Brazil, the new IOC President Thomas Bach inaugurated the Place of Mourning, which will now be a feature at every Olympics, with two stones from ancient Olympia encased in glass.  Bach said at the opening “Today, the inauguration of the Place of Mourning give us the opportunity to remember those that have passed away at the Olympic Games.”

He then read the names of ALL people who died at the Olympics – not just the murdered Israeli athletes.  The role call included Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died on the eve of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in an accident in the sliding center.

And so politics entered the Olympics arena once again.

Palestinian Arabs objected to the memorial of the slain Israelis, just as many Arab countries refuse to recognize the existence of Israel, and their athletes refuse to compete against Israeli athletes.

So the IOC compromised on the request of the Israeli widows who had fought for decades for an appropriate memorial, by remembering them in a mass grave.  The slain Israelis were no longer unique.  They were not singled out and murdered by terrorists.  The Israeli athletes were simply victims of their passionate competition, not terrorism.

The IOC recognized the Israelis only as athletes in an #AllLivesMatter moment. At the Olympics, it is JeSuisAthletes, not JeSuisIsraeli.  The dead are the dead and we mourn them all.

However, the Israelis did not get the chance to compete.  They did not die on the field, competing in the sports they loved.  They were taken hostage as they slept in their beds.  They were not seized as athletes, but as Israelis. These victims were individuals who came into the Olympic tent to compete with their fellow athletes, but the IOC failed to protect them.

The wives of the slain Israelis were happy that the IOC did not forgot their husbands and other members of the Israeli delegation. It has been a very long journey for them.

Yet it is disappointing that the best the IOC could muster was “AllAthletesMatter.

Related First.One.Through articles:

My Terrorism

How to recognize an event, without admitting complicity:  Austria’s View of Kristallnacht

Black Lives Matter Joins the anti-Israel “Progressives” Fighting Zionism

Memory and Responsibility in Germany

Subscribe YouTube channel: FirstOneThrough

Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through  Israel Analysis

Paul Gherkin

In Memory Of My Abba, Dr. Ivan Mauer

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Recently I went to a shiur on Yitzchak Avinu and found that it applied in many ways to my own father whose name was Yitzchak.

Yitzchak, the most ambiguous of the forefathers, is hard to describe. Avraham is closely associated with hachnasat orchim and chesed, and Yaakov is the father of our nation, B’nei Yisrael. Yitzchak is often described as serious, exacting, din, and yet his name is Yitzchak, to laugh, which seems to be a contradiction in terms.

How do we resolve this dichotomy?

Yitzchak was the paradigm of one who sees his existence as miraculous, as something that shouldn’t have been, someone who came into this world against all odds. Besides his parents having been too old to have a child, midrashim state that Sara didn’t have a womb. The laughter comes from the unexpected fact that he even exists. This keen sense of existence is balanced with an ability to laugh at the pure intensity of life. Yitzchak teaches us to laugh at ourselves, not to take ourselves too seriously, since life is almost too serious to comprehend. Yitzchak achieved the balance of knowing that the world was created for him yet we are all but dust of the earth.

Yitzchak came to teach us how to temper Avraham’s unlimited kindness, chesed. He introduced gemilut chasadim – limiting kindness. He was the first one in Tanach to be weaned, gemila, which teaches us in many aspects of our lives (relationship with our spouse, parenting, etc.) how we can wean ourselves from too much. Too much kindness, and too much giving which in many cases leads to being overwhelmed, frustrated and burnout.

And lastly, Yitzchak shows us the true meaning of laughter, a confident, mature laughter that comes from knowing that what you’re doing is right and that you’re on the right path. If someone chides you, be it on an individual level or on a national level, it is just that, a lighthearted, ignorant laughter.

As I focused on the healing powers of Yitzchak, I thought of my own Abba, Yitzchak ben Tzvi and Leah.

As a doctor, he was well aware of the fragility of life and yet cherished every moment and was able to “laugh” at the absolute miracle of living in this precarious world.

He taught me to enjoy each moment that is given to me and taught me through his example to persevere no matter what, since it’s G-d who gives life. And my father knew what was right even if it wasn’t popular or wasn’t the thing to do, like moving to a settlement in Israel. How proud he was of that. He would say don’t worry what other people say, “You’re doing the right thing.” Let them laugh. It’s not true laughter.

And like Yitzchak our forefather you were always filled with hakarat hatov.

I miss you terribly, every day. But like Yitzchak Avinu, your legacy lives on in your children and grandchildren who love you and continue to draw strength and laughter from you.

Michal Mauer Silverstein


Friday, November 23rd, 2012

When I married my husband, I was surprised to learn that his family didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. His parents were Holocaust survivors, born and raised in Europe, threatened and nearly killed by the Nazis. They immigrated to the United States because anywhere, everywhere was better than Europe and the US was the first place that came through with enough visas for the brothers and sisters on both sides that had survived. Gone were the parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts. Each had lost siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors.

They were a generation cut off from their roots but not their future and the one thing they knew for sure was that their future would not be spent in Europe. As far as I know, the only other time they went back to Europe was on a personal “heritage” tour in which they went with my sister-in-law and at one place, were met with a woman and a knife because she thought they had come to take her home – the one she had stolen from my father-in-law’s family – away from her.

It was the United States of America that accepted them, welcomed them, and gave them a secure place to raise their children. They accepted many things from their new homeland, but not this holiday of Thanksgiving. For them, as Orthodox Jews, thanksgiving was something you gave every day, not once a year, they explained to me (as others have as well).

In practice, the concept of thanking God is so ingrained in the Jewish religion that it is the first words we speak each morning – Modeh Ani –

מוֹדֶה (מוֹדָה) אֲנִי לְפָנֶֽיךָ מֶֽלֶךְ חַי וְקַיָּים. שֶׁהֶֽחֱזַֽרְתָּ בִּי נִשְׁמָתִי בְחֶמְלָה. רַבָּה אֱמֽוּנָתֶֽךָ I offer thanks before you, living and eternal King, for You have mercifully restored my soul within me; Your faithfulness is great.

I tried to explain to them that for me Thanksgiving was about family – it was the chance to gather everyone close on a day that was not Shabbat, when Jews are unable to travel, use electricity, and generally stay close to home.

So, each year, most years, we made a Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family. When we moved to Israel, we made a few dinners with American friends, but for the most part, the tradition fell away. It’s been years since I did it. Until Lauren came into our lives and asked about the holiday.

I decided this year to make a turkey and invite my parents and my sister – her children, my children. And then, Israel went…well, as it turns out, not really to war but into Operation Pillar of Defense. Elie was called in and I wasn’t sure what to do. I decided that whatever Lauren wanted, we’d do and so I asked. I think she was surprised that I asked – hadn’t considered canceling. You don’t cancel Thanksgiving, after all – it’s there. And so my husband picked up the turkey, I stuffed it and cooked it. Lauren made pumpkin pie and a delicious soup – and my parents and my sister and one of her kids (and her fiance, who is also named Elie), came.

And though he didn’t make it in time for dinner – but rather time enough to grab leftovers and eat them straight off the plate as a happy Lauren packed him food – Elie came home.

Thanksgiving is a time – one time along with every day and every minute of your life that you should stop and give thanks. Some families go around the table and have everyone say one thing for which they are grateful. That’s not something we have ever done, but perhaps we should.

I am so very grateful, God, that You brought my son home safely. I’m grateful for the rain that pours down on this land at this moment, and even for the thunder and lightning. I am grateful for the land in which I live; that we are able to defend ourselves as we were not able to do when my in-laws lived and nearly died in Europe.

I am so very grateful for the blessings in my life – my husband, my children, my grandson, the three that have married my children to form families of their own. I am grateful to the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who answered the call without hesitation -in staggering numbers and with staggering efficiency. They rushed to answer the call – out of love and dedication.

Paula R. Stern

Title: Alone in Africa

Friday, November 9th, 2012

Author: Avigail Sharer
Publisher: Israel Bookshop Publications

Alone in Africa, by Avigail Sharer, is an original adventure story about three siblings named Nesanel, Penina and Chezky Feiner, who are, well, alone in Africa. Except they aren’t entirely alone – they have animals and two battling African tribes to keep them company.

It all started when the three Feiner kids were flying from home in London without their parents to visit their grandparents in South Africa. The airport-provided chaperon was a rookie teenager who didn’t know what to do when the airplane made an emergency landing in the jungle. The kids became separated from the other passengers, who were driven away by military Jeeps to the airport. That is how they became “alone in Africa.”

They were found by an African tribe named the Lulu was who thought that Nesanel was a prophet named Gift of G-d. The other children escaped, but Nesanel was kept. When Nesanel attempted to escape, his plan was foiled when he was captured by a different African tribe named the Bakayas, who were at war with the Luluwas. There was a rescue attempt by Penina and Chezky, but was it successful?

I liked Alone in Africa for a number of reasons. The plot was fast-paced and full of twists and turns; at one moment they were wandering through the jungle, the next moment they were captured. My personal favorite part of this book was the idea of a non-poisonous, poisonous frog (when you read it you’ll know). The story is also very informative about survival skills. I would recommend Alone in Africa to potential jungle explorers of ages 9-10 who are ready to tackle a chapter book of over 230 pages.

Shmuel Holczer

The Fascinating Life of Our First Matriarch

Friday, November 9th, 2012

From the moment she is introduced as Avraham’s young bride (Bereshit 11: 29,30,31) till her death in this week’s Torah portion appropriately titled Chayei Sarah — The Life of Sarah , the fascinating image of our first matriarch is the subject of many intriguing Midrashic commentaries.

The verse (Bereshit 11:29) that introduces Sarah also introduces Yiskah, the daughter of Haran, giving rise to a Rabbinic interpretation, which identifies Yiskah with Sarah. Sarah was also called Yiskah, Chazal say, because everyone who beheld her “would gaze” (yiskeh) at her beauty (Megillah 14a), an extraordinary gift that she retained till the end of her days (Bereshit Rabba 40:4). According to another Rabbinic commentary, Sarah was so beautiful that all other people “were like monkeys” by comparison (Bava Basra 58a), while another Midrash claims that even Avishag the Shunamite, the archetype of Biblical beauty, never “achieved even half of Sarah’s charm” (Sanhedrin 39b). In a summation of her life Chazal further elaborate on the theme of 127 -year-old Sarah’s physical and spiritual beauty and assure us that she was as pure at the age of one hundred as a seven-year-old and as beautiful as a twenty-year old.

Sarah’s identity with Yiskah based on the root “sacho”(see), has prompted an additional interpretation by Chazal that besides beauty, Sarah possessed the gift of prophetic “vision” which enabled her to “see” by means of the Holy Spirit (Megillah. 14a).

As a matter-of-fact, Sarah’s visionary gifts surpassed even those of Avraham (Shemot Rabba 1:1), and it was for this reason that Avraham was admonished:

Our Sages teach that the Almighty heard Sarah’s prayer for deliverance from Pharaoh’s clutches, and sent an angel to whip the Egyptian king at her command when her extraordinary beauty caused her abduction to the latter’s palace (Bereshit Rabba 41:2). It was on this occasion that, intimidated by Divine punishment on her account, Pharaoh presented to Sarah the land of Goshen as her personal possession and his daughter Hagar as her handmaid (Bereshit Rabba 45). This is how it came about that Bnei Yisrael dwelt in Goshen during their sojourn in Egypt; it was their inheritance through our Matriarch Sarah.

Our Matriarch Sarah’s original name was Sarai, and it was only later with the assumption of their divine mission that the letter “h” from the Divine Name was added. Avram became Avraham and Sarai became Sarah. From Midrashic literature we learn that Sarai meant “a princess to her own people,” but when her name was changed to Sarah, she became a “princess to all mankind” (Bereshit Rabba 47:1). In this capacity she shared Avraham’s mission to spread the faith in one G-d – while Avraham converted the men, Sarah converted the women.

Besides her gifts of beauty, prophecy, wisdom and leadership, Chazal attribute to Sarah great spiritual and material blessings. “As long as Sarah lived,” Bereshit Rabba reveals, “there was a light burning from one Shabbat eve to the next; and there was a blessing in the dough; and a cloud was hovering over the tent. And when she died – they ceased.” (Idem.). And yet, Sarah’s greatest merit was Avraham’s heeding her admonishment and his decision based on her advice — removing from his household Yishmael and with him, Yishmael’s deleterious influence.

I believe this was perhaps the most important achievement in the life of Sarah and her most far-reaching historical move.

Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson

The Most Beautiful Picture of Israelis Ever Shot

Friday, November 9th, 2012

The two men in this picture are Chief of Operations for the Southern Front Yitzhak Rabin and Southern Front Commander Yigal Allon, in 1949. It’s a cold day somewhere on the dunes east or south of Gaza. Neither man has slept much, which is evident from Rabin’s messy hair.

Alon, four years older and considered deeper than his lieutenant, is looking at Rabin with a kind of fatherly gaze. The burden of war, the weariness of daily engagements, are evident in their posture. Neither one looks particularly happy or even content.

But it’s a beautiful picture in my eyes, because it depicts a moment so suffused with potential in our history. There’s the thinker, Alon, and Rabin, an anti-intellectual if ever there was one, and at that frozen moment in time you can’t yet tell that all their efforts to lead the Jewish experience in the Land of Israel to a benign, normal, familiar, civilized conclusion would crash, one after the other, against the harsh realities of the Middle East.

Neither one of them was a fool, neither one was kidding himself that our neighbors are bursting with joy at the idea of accepting, much less embracing us into their midst. Both died having done everything humanly possible, including countless times putting their lives on the line, seeking that acceptance.

There is beauty in failure. It is quiet, hidden, humble. The beauty of two young men in the middle of a battle outside Gaza, hair blowing in the wind, eyes red from lack of sleep, daring to hope.

The boys and girls of my generation have grown up with that image emblazoned in our retinas as the best that an Israeli person could be.

I’m glad that phase is over. I’m looking forward to images of new, beautiful Israelis, like the famous young paratrooper at the Kotel in 1967. Or, better yet, a young windsurfer at the Olympic games. I’m totally open to suggestions.

Yori Yanover

Women Dominate Israeli Courts and Public Legal Sector

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

In Israel, it pays to be a woman if you want to get ahead as legal clerk, lawyer or judge.

In a quiet revolution, women have begun to outnumber men in the Israeli legal profession, and while, for the moment, there are still more active lawyers who are men (28,231) than women (22,670), that gap is quickly closing.

Here are some numbers that may surprise you:

New graduating lawyers: 54% women (1128), 46% men (961). (Source: Israel Bar Association)

Ministry of Justice employees: 69% women (2564), 31% men (1145) (Source: Ministry of Justice)

Court Presidents: 71.5% women (15), 28.5% men (6) (Source: Court Spokesperson)

Judges appointed in 2011: 51% women (321), 49% men (305)

Soon men may need to demand affirmative action if they want to move up in the legal world.

So where does it still pay to be a man?

The last holdout where men still outnumber women is that of partners in the top private Israeli law firms, where men make up 73% of the partners compared to the women’s 27% (Source: Dun and Bradstreet).

The other last bastion of male control is of course as Rabbinical Court judges.

But not to worry, women are working to take those over too.

Shalom Bear

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/women-rule-israeli-courts-and-public-legal-sector/2012/10/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: